Life is for living; you don’t want to defer it until you are retired.
I hadn’t realised that I was on to something!
I started to do proper travel adventures from the Christmas before my 50th birthday, and did two long haul adventure holidays a year right up till covid stopped my 8 weeks in Tibet and Nepal back in March 2020, a few months before my 63rd birthday.
My reasons for my adventures was … why wait to retirement?
Having run pre-retirement seminars for over 35 years, and years back working as a welfare officer for The Post Office, visiting the (mainly) widows of pensioners who had died, and the employees who were going to leave early due to ill health, I knew of many people who never did get the retirement they had dreamed of.
Many had plans that were thwarted. On a holiday to celebrate turning 60, I met two widows, holidaying alone, still in their 50s. Both had hoped to do their trip with their husbands, but were now doing it alone and wishing they had travelled years before.
Elsewhere I learned of a couple, a few months into retirement and planning their retirement life when they found the husband had an aggressive form of cancer. A few months later he was dead and she wouldn’t travel alone.
I work for myself, so have the flexibility to work when I want; so I would go away for a minimum of 4 weeks, taking my laptop so I could do some urgent/lucrative work that cropped up. My 50th birthday was spent on a camping safari in Namibia. Putting up low dome tents each night, helping with the cooking and washing up. I don’t think I’d be up for that now. I also backpacked around India, and that and other trips were physically demanding. Would I be doing that now, with my knee, I doubt it.
I had a choice; I could continue to add to my pension fund and wait to travel in retirement, or prioritise things that made me feel alive.
It wasn’t just holidays, it was to do the luxury camping options at music festivals, and travel over the country to follow my favourite bands.
Too many people choose the deferred life plan
Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work week has said that this is the delusion we have. We think that we will be able to enjoy ourselves later in life. But this is at a time when we are least physically and psychologically able to.
So, we wait to live.
We work hard; but often work lacks meaning and we dream of when we can retire and live the life of our dreams – to travel, spend more time with loved ones, time for hobbies and passionate interests.
But by our mid 60s we may have less energy, some health issues, and our lives are not what we hoped they would be.
Maybe, rather than wait, we should seek to have a more flexible work-life and to take some time outs so we have some ‘mini retirements,’ or sabbaticals rather than to save it all up to later.
Of course this won’t be right for everyone. You need the right mindset, and the knowledge and work that allows some flexibility. You may be able to work from anywhere, or get a transfer to work in a different country. Your organisation may allow a sabbatical. If you want to live in Nepal, or Rio, you probably could carry on with a lot of work via your home office set up, which could be a coffee shop or sat on decking overlooking the mountains.
Or you may prefer a complete time out. For example, if you want to ride a horse down the whole of South America, (I thought of this, but as I can’t ride let this idea pass!), or to see if you can write a screenplay or a book and realise a few hours here and there doesn’t cut it for you.
Of course, resigning is scary, and a risky decision. But it is an option – you can rent your home to cover your mortgage to cover the financial risks and make sure you have experiences while away to enhance your CV to get another job. We all need to think about what works best for us. We may be open to return to work in lower paid work, and choose a simpler life.
We may want to think about whether we want to regret the things we haven’t done, or regret the things we do.
1. What are you plans for life after full time work?
2. How could you integrate them into your life right now, either alongside your work or by taking a sabbatical?
3. Anything to ask or add, pop your comment below
Dr Denise Taylor is a Chartered Psychologist and Vision Quest Guide, specialising in retirement transitions and elderhood. Regularly featured in the media, she is the author of 8 books including Find Work at 50+ and Now you’ve been shortlisted.
My next book – Rethink Retirement will be published in late 2022